QPR claim a 1-0 victory at Loftus Road...
QPR 1 (Austin 58), UNITED 0
QPR team: Green, Onuoha, Hall, Perch, Konchesky, Phillips, Faurlin, Yun (Chery 56), Sandro, Petrasso (Austin 56), Hoilett (Henry 89). Subs: Smithies, Luongo, Angella, Tozser.
United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas, Bridcutt, Cook, Mowatt (Botaka 67), Antenucci (Erwin 80), Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Byram, Adeyemi, Murphy, Doukara.
Referee: Peter Bankes
Booked: Bridcutt, Wootton, Cook (United)
Att: 18,031 (3,220 United)
The trip to Queens Park Rangers saw United head coach Steve Evans make two changes from the previous weekend’s home defeat to Rotherham, one of which was enforced as Charlie Taylor returned from illness to replace the suspended Gaetano Berardi at left-back.
The other change saw Evans hand a United debut to Liam Bridcutt in midfield, just two days after joining on an emergency loan deal from Sunderland. It meant Luke Murphy dropped to the substitutes’ bench, where he joined young goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Bridcutt was involved early on, but not quite in the way he would have hoped as the midfielder was shown the game’s first yellow card with just seven minutes on the clock after hauling down Junior Hoilett as QPR looked to mount a quick break up-field.
Alejandro Faurlin fired the resulting free-kick over the bar from 30 yards out, but goalmouth action was at a premium during the opening exchanges. Marco Silvestri dealt comfortably with a couple of crosses, but both goalkeepers remained otherwise untested.
Stuart Dallas, minutes after being patched up for a bloody nose, had United’s first sight of goal, volleying well over the crossbar after collecting Lewis Cook’s pass on his chest, before Chris Wood spurned the best chance of the early stages on 26 minutes.
The striker latched onto a loose back-pass and calmly rounded the onrushing Robert Green, but the angle was tight and Wood could only blaze over the bar after Green had recovered to re-take his position on the line with defenders closing in.
QPR’s best opening fell to Grant Hall shortly after the half-hour mark, rising inside the area to meet a floated corner from the right, but the defender saw his header fly over from close-range.
Some last-ditch defending from Taylor ensured Silvestri remained unthreatened between the sticks, before Michael Petrasso smashed a rebound over the bar after seeing his initial goalbound effort blocked by one of his own team-mates inside the area.
Nedum Onuoha and Paul Konchesky both tried their luck from range as QPR ended the first half the stronger of the two, but it remained goalless as referee Peter Bankes signalled for the end of a largely forgettable opening 45 minutes.
Both sides re-emerged unchanged from the interval and United started the second half in a positive manner as Mirco Antenucci was set free down the right before drilling a low cross all the way through an empty box, while Dallas’ rising strike whistled over Green’s crossbar in front of the travelling fans.
But it was Neil Warnock’s QPR who managed to open the deadlock after 58 minutes through substitute Charlie Austin, just two minutes after the striker had stepped off the bench in a double change alongside Tjaronn Chery.
Faurlin’s whipped corner found the striker, Rangers’ top goalscorer this term, unmarked inside the area to nod a simple header beyond Silvestri and draw first blood.
The hosts’ tails were up, and United did well to survive a flurry of dangerous corners into the box as the home crowd urged their side forward. Austin’s introduction had changed the game, and the striker threatened to notch a second with a powerful header from Matt Phillips’ deep free-kick.
Evans was soon prompted into his first change of the afternoon, an attacking move which saw Jordan Botaka replace Alex Mowatt, but QPR continued to press and Silvestri was forced into a stunning reflex save to beat away Austin’s near-post header.
The one-way traffic continued, with Faurlin curling a first-time effort wide from 25 yards out after being teed up by Phillips, before the latter came close himself with a low strike on the edge of the area.
Silvestri was keeping United in the game, though, and the Italian clawed away Chery’s low attempt from inside the area when the QPR substitute looked destined to pick out the bottom corner.
Lee Erwin was brought on for Antenucci as the game entered the final 10 minutes, and the Scotsman did force Green into a low save to clutch his ambitious half-volley from out wide.
Leeds began to mount some late pressure as they looked to salvage something from the game, with Wood firing over from distance after being found in space by Cook.
Cook then came close himself, dragging wide from a tight angle after Dallas’ strike had cannoned into his path, while a low cross was agonisingly cleared from in front of Botaka with the goal gaping.
But, despite United’s chances in the closing stages, the hosts saw out the game to claim a victory which they were good value for on a forgettable afternoon for Evans’ side.